Strategies for teaching common core to teens with autism show promise

March 19, 2014, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute
Credit: High school classroom in Newark, Delaware, public domain image, courtesy of Wikimedia

Scientists at UNC's Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) report that high school students with autism can learn under Common Core State Standards (CCSS), boosting their prospects for college and employment. Newly published recommendations from FPG's team also provide strategies for educating adolescents with autism under a CCSS curriculum.

"The number of with autism who enter settings continues to grow," said Veronica P. Fleury, lead author and postdoctoral research associate with FPG's Center on Secondary Education for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. "Many educators may find that they're not prepared to adapt their instruction to meet both state standards and the diverse needs of these students."

In 2010, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers released the CCSS for English and mathematics in an effort to better prepare students for college and careers. According to Fleury, the greater demand for a technologically advanced workforce also makes academic skills now even more essential for .

"But the college enrollment of people with autism is among the lowest for all categories of disabilities," Fleury said. "In addition, less than 40% of the population with autism is employed—and most of those with jobs only work part-time, without benefits."

However, she said that academic performance in high school plays an important role in opportunities for a college education and employment. Yet, while the CCSS outlines expectations of what educators should teach, it provides no guidance on how to teach these skills to students with or without autism.

Fleury believes the most effective high school instruction requires understanding the complex profile of students with ASD, who possess both strengths and weaknesses.

People with autism have some social deficits and may process language at a slower rate, she said, while many also have enhanced visual processing. Some may have difficulty learning to make calculations, but others are mathematically gifted.

"It's extremely hard to draw general conclusions about academic performance for these students," Fleury said. "But adolescents with autism often do have difficulties comprehending texts, and many find writing a burdensome task."

Fluery added that work in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) are replacing manufacturing jobs and may provide viable opportunities for many people with ASD. She said people with autism often gravitate to these fields in college, highlighting the need to equip them as with skills that will enable them to compete and achieve.

"While the very structure of high school poses challenges for students with autism, being able to anticipate and understand activities, schedules, and expectations can improve their ability to respond to classroom demands," she said. "Establishing routines and creating written schedules also helps."

In a new article in Remedial and Special Education, Fleury and her co-authors recommended several strategies to educate students with ASD effectively, including exposing them to assignments before presenting the work in class. The researchers also noted a variety of techniques for delivering the highly explicit instruction that teenagers with autism require, such as teaching mnemonic devices for remembering steps in a task.

"High school students with ASD also need ample opportunities to practice skills across settings throughout the school day," she said. "And teaching them to monitor their own behavior can help them to use their skills in a variety of settings."

Fleury added that because there is a strong link between social and academic skills, new research should focus on developing interventions for students with autism that can address both areas of need together.

"We know that when students with receive appropriate instruction and supports, many of them are capable of learning academic content that is aligned with state standards," she said. "And better academic performance often leads to a more successful outcome after high school."

Explore further: Superior visual thinking may be key to independence for high schoolers with autism

Related Stories

Superior visual thinking may be key to independence for high schoolers with autism

March 12, 2014
Researchers at UNC's Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) and UNC's School of Education report that teaching independence to adolescents with autism can provide a crucial boost to their chances for success ...

New program for students with autism offers hope after high school

March 5, 2014
An innovative program from UNC's Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) and 6 partner universities is preparing students with autism for life after high school.

Video instruction brings quick advances for teens with autism

October 17, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Difficulty with social situations hinders the relationships, schoolwork, and mental health of teens with autism. Often these students struggle with complicated interactions in high school, but scientists ...

Youth with autism gravitate toward STEM majors in college—if they get there

November 15, 2012
It's a popularly held belief that individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) gravitate toward STEM majors in college (science, technology, engineering mathematics).

Watching their success can help teens with autism master important life skills

September 6, 2013
Like all special education instructors, Cami Burton aims to help her students with autism and developmental disabilities master real-life skills that will allow them to become more independent.

APA: iPad use in classroom ups communication in ASD

August 1, 2013
(HealthDay)—Use of handheld touch devices in classrooms may be beneficial for enhancing communication skills among children with autism spectrum disorders, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American ...

Recommended for you

Nearly imperceptible fluctuations in movement correspond to autism diagnoses

January 17, 2018
A new study led by researchers at Indiana University and Rutgers University provides the strongest evidence yet that nearly imperceptible changes in how people move can be used to diagnose neurodevelopmental disorders, including ...

Epigenetics study helps focus search for autism risk factors

January 16, 2018
Scientists have long tried to pin down the causes of autism spectrum disorder. Recent studies have expanded the search for genetic links from identifying genes toward epigenetics, the study of factors that control gene expression ...

Being bilingual may help autistic children

January 16, 2018
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) often have a hard time switching gears from one task to another. But being bilingual may actually make it a bit easier for them to do so, according to a new study which was recently ...

No rise in autism in US in past three years: study

January 2, 2018
After more than a decade of steady increases in the rate of children diagnosed with autism in the United States, the rate has plateaued in the past three years, researchers said Tuesday.

Autism therapy: Brain stimulation restores social behavior in mice

December 13, 2017
Scientists are examining the feasibility of treating autistic children with neuromodulation after a new study showed social impairments can be corrected by brain stimulation.

Social phobia linked to autism and schizophrenia

December 11, 2017
New Swinburne research shows that people who find social situations difficult tend to have similar brain responses to those with schizophrenia or autism.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.